The Seattle Mariners announced their minor league coaching staffs on Monday afternoon, including the Rainiers.
We’ve known for a while that manager Pat Listach is returning for his third year, and that he needed a new hitting coach since Scott Brosius was promoted to the major league staff.
The Mariners announced the Rainiers will bring back pitching coach Lance Painter, while adding two new coaches: hitting coach Dave Berg, and coach Brian L. Hunter.
We’re very happy to have Listach coming back. He was disappointed in his 68-76 record in 2015, which was his first year with the Rainiers and his first season managing since 2008. Listach bounced back in terrific fashion, leading the Rainiers to an 81-62 record in 2016, the team’s first division title since 2010, and finished runner-up for the PCL’s Manager of the Year award.
The Rainiers had excellent pitching this season under coach Painter, finishing with the third-best team ERA in the Pacific Coast League. The team’s 3.92 ERA was Tacoma’s lowest since 2001.
New to the organization, Dave Berg is making the switch from manager to hitting coach this year. He managed the Miami Marlins Double-A Jacksonville Suns affiliate (now known as the Jumbo Shrimp; Berg escaped before the name change) in 2015 and 2016, and he piloted some lower-level minor league teams before that. Berg played at Sacramento City College, where Mariners farm director Andy McKay was head coach, although they were not there at the same time. Berg reached the majors as a utility infielder for the Marlins and Blue Jays, 1998-2004.
Seattle decided to increase the size of the coaching staffs with the minor league clubs, which falls in line with what many teams are doing these days. The Rainiers fourth coach is former major league speedster Brian L. Hunter, who worked with the Everett Aqua Sox last year.
Hunter played all or parts of ten seasons in the majors, from 1994 to 2003, which includes the 1999 season as a Mariner. He led the American League in stolen bases two times, setting a career high of 74 in 1997 with Detroit.
Brian L. Hunter was identified with a middle initial because there was another Brian Hunter in the majors at the same time: Brian R. Hunter was the opposite style of player, a slower guy who came off the bench and hit home runs.
Our Brian Hunter is a Northwest native, born in Portland and raised in Vancouver, WA. He graduated from Ft. Vancouver High School.
For fun, here are the Baseball Reference pages of the Rainiers coaching staff. We’ve got a lot of big league experience on this staff!
We’re also pleased to have our entire training staff return: athletic trainers Tom Newberg and B.J. Downie, and strength and conditioning guru Derek Mendoza.
- Here’s the story on the Rainiers coaching staff from The News Tribune.
- The Times provides a list of all Mariners minor league development staff, including a new all-time baseball record: four mental skills coaches.
- The Seattle Times has a feature on hard-throwing Mariners relief prospect Thyago Vieira. I was unfamiliar with him until reports started to emerge that he was throwing 102 mph in the Arizona Fall League. Hopefully we’ll see him in Tacoma at some point this year (he’ll probably begin the season at Double-A).
- The Mariners payroll in 2016 increased by nearly 25% over the 2015 figure.
- After ten years managing in the International League, former Tacoma Rainiers manager Dave Brundage is returning to the PCL in 2017. Brundage was named manager of the Sacramento River Cats on Thursday. Brundage managed Tacoma in 2006, then managed the Gwinnett Braves for six years before spending the last four years managing the Philadelphia Phillies’ Lehigh Valley affiliate. Ex-Rainiers pitching coach Dwight Bernard returns to the Sacramento staff.
Check back for a new post on Thursday.